Sculpture slab representing Buddha with snake in his alms-bowl, Peshawar District
Photographer: Cole, Henry Hardy
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken in c.1883 and attributed to Henry Hardy Cole (probably incorrectly) of a Buddist sculpture slab, representing Buddha with a snake in his alms bowl, from an unknown location near Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province and now in the Lahore Museum. This sculpture illustrates the miracle at the fire-temple, where, Buddha subdued a dangerous serpent which had taken up residence at the temple through his spiritual power. Once subdued the snake crawled into the Buddha's begging bowl. In this way the Buddha was able to convince an ascetic called Kasyapa of his authenticity, and convert him to Buddhism. From the first and second centuries AD onwards, Peshawar, in northern Pakistan, was famous for it's sculptural traditions. Known as Gandhara, it was ruled by a dynasty of Chinese origin called the Kushans. They were Buddhists and under their rule, the religion and the arts associated with it were allowed to flourish. The reign of the Kushan king Kanishka, is particularly well known for its artistic achievements and it was during his reign, from 78 AD, that we find the first examples of the Graeco-Roman influenced Gandharan style of sculpture. The classical influence on this sculpture slab can be seen, in the figures draped clothing, their curly hair and the naturalistic modelling of their bodies.